Monolith of Minds

Connecting Streams

Connecting Streams
My body, ruined by the red-eyed monster, drifted down. A beautiful explosion expanded above, followed by pure darkness. It was only later that I saw the hundreds more who had joined me on my journey to the ocean’s floor.

—Atoller

As the planners, regulators and technologists of humanity built their new homes in the sky, the farmers and builders on the ground were left with nothing but dying soil and toxic water. Accepting the challenge, they slowly reclaimed the rivers and underwater farms, filtering, recycling and rebuilding the wasteland.

The residents of Cloud City needed the natural resources this land provided. In return, they offered logistics and heavy machinery, and the proletariat took any help they could get. Autonomous submarines and mobile purification plants roamed the shores, and with them came the autocrats: independent administrators of energy, consumption and shares.

As the ecosystem stabilized, corruption took over. The machines obeyed their masters. Violence, tax increases and distribution of property emerged, thinning the line between cooperation and slavery. And once again the farmers revolted against their robot overlords, with forks and stones on the shaky ground of the oceans.

Views from the Monolith 011

Connecting Streams

By now, we have a clear vision of where Resolutiion should be by late 2019. The team is well attuned, and the list of unpolished areas is getting shorter. Every month is fast, packed, and progress feels great.

Revisiting the Divided Sea and Sunken City took us back to probably the hardest levels to develop, due to the many different locations and wide, empty areas. We decided to improve each by introducing light puzzles. These slow down progress and create space to take in the pretty water-landscapes — feeling kind of like a vacation at the end of the world.

While Richi and I restructured the lowest point of Resolutiion’s world, Chris took care of the highest: adding final details to Cloud City:

For the most part, this was simply adding additional information to break up the otherwise large expanses of empty, single coloured walls. Geometric lines on the walls suggest some insight into their construction, while at the same time their resemblance to circuitry patterns adds to the futuristic feel of the city. More importantly, they make the areas without detail feel intentionally minimalist, that this is a stylistic choice from both us as game designers and of Cloud City’s inhabitants.

Beyond that, adding pipes and hazard indicators help bring the space to life. No longer is it just a level in a game designed specifically with the player’s combat and exploration in mind, it feels like there is a world of things happening beyond what we can see. A busy network of rooms that become a living character in themselves, the pipes and tubes acting as veins and arteries to the mysterious Link Fluid — the life source powering it all.

Working on the most northern and southern areas simultaneously, we realized that our world had grown so big that players might get lost at one point or another. Would a map be the solution? Would it motivate exploration or rather have players hug the walls? Resolutiion’s geometry can’t be laid out as perfect squares, like Metroid or Zelda maps; if we were going to do this, the question was how?

After some experiments, it turned out that representing all interconnected areas on two planes — outside and inside — worked quite well for the most part. Here's a preview of the recent prototype:

While this will obviously change quite a bit before Resolutiion ships, having a map of everything in place helps to balance out the game’s progression from a design perspective, allowing us to ensure we are evenly distributing the challenges we set, with points of interest, collectables and lore.

Looking Up

Between January and February, we scheduled two very valuable meetings with our widespread team:

First, we went to Glasgow, Scotland, to sit with Chris and plan how to design and implement the aesthetic of where we want to get to be by the end of the year. Locking ourselves in his studio for four days, we emerged with plenty of ideas, mock-ups and some particle-prototypes. Just comparing screenshots from late 2018 to those from January 2019 was very exciting: for some bloody video-game-rookies like ourselves, we are extremely pleased with how it’s progressing.

Next up was our music guy Gerrit: with plenty of pizza and beer, we worked our way through the whole game in one extensive sitting, debating and analyzing the musical score of each level. Some of the 60 tracks got switched, some were extended, and a few changed entirely. Over the coming months, Gerrit will put a lot more effort into each of them, but to us, it’s already obvious that Resolutiion will sound amazing.

With artwork and music on track, Richi and I will now shift back and focus on story, gameplay and stability. See you back here next month with more stories from the crazy world of video game development.